I wanted to get out there for New Year’s Day, but there was an awful lot of snow on the ground from recent storms. Rather than just blow it off, I decided to break out some nifty toys that I picked up in Freeport. They’re shoe spikes like the ones I had before, but far more serious. In fact, I’m sure I’ll see them in an action movie at some point.
I was a little worried that they would be overkill, or that they would only be good for hard-packed snow, but I had to buy them and try them out before I could be sure. I bought them at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, partly because I wanted to show my new employer some customer love, but mostly because holy crap… just look at them. They look like they’ll damage the sidewalk if I use them in warmer weather. They come in several sizes, so I was able to get a pair that fit over my shoes easily. Once in place, they didn’t slide or shift.
When I got them outside, it was like wearing tap shoes. They clicked on the bricks of our building’s front steps until I got into the snow, where they dug in nicely. I didn’t feel the spikes going into the snow. I just walked normally and enjoyed how my feet tended to stay where I put them. Any place with hard-packed snow was easy to navigate, and the softer stuff was far easier than it normally is. It was far easier to run with these than to walk through Portland in my boots.
Of course, these rubber overlays are no substitute for caution. You can still slide if you turn a corner through some slush, and the least plowed areas were still as challenging and risky as a trail run. But the STABILicers drastically reduced my chances of slipping and sliding.
I noticed my stride changing a bit while I was out there. I normally don’t use my heel much, but for this run I really wanted to make use of those spikes in the back of the rubber web. The more spikes I use, the more traction I get. I found myself using a rolling gait, starting with the heel and ending with the toe.
It’s not something I would recommend as a rule, especially in minimal shoes, but it’s not like I was running on concrete. I was running on snow and occasionally on ice. For that terrain, the need to avoid impact shock is outweighed by the need to avoid accidental back-flips. It all ended well, though. I was properly dressed for the temperature, and my new toys work just fine.